Stellata mirifica

I’ve grown Stellata mirifica for over twenty years. I love it! The plant grew beautifully in the old Newhall garden, providing many suckers to others who wished to grow it. For the past five years, it has languished in a five gallon can, depleted to about a third of the soil the can once held. It flowered each year, set hips and repeated its cycle. I finally planted it on the hill last summer, where it thumbed its nose at me and died to the root.

I’ve repeatedly tried in all this time to raise seedlings from this rose, without success. Last fall, I collected many self set hips from the dead plant, cleaned the nasty, prickly hips and planted them all. An interesting article I read long ago, suggested Persica, Minutifolia and Stellata are ancient species, predating what we think of as species today, and all have very stinky hips. It impresses me that being true desert plants, they have to attract carrion eaters to spread their seeds. The pulp inside the hips is very dense and fibrous with a very strong scent of Valerian root, like a smelly, old sneaker. The very small seeds hide in the dense fibers and are a bear to clean from it. Most usually appear very immature, even unfertilized. The “best” don’t really appear viable, being very small, dark, smooth and pear shaped, but I planted everything possible.

It’s taken three and a half months for these three babies to show their heads.

[flickr_photo src= nsid=67995840@N04 id=7051489205]stellata mirifica (1)[/flickr_photo]

[flickr_photo src= nsid=67995840@N04 id=7051496453]stellata mirifica (3)[/flickr_photo]

There aren’t any signs of insects inside the enclosed table and no other critters can get in, but something ate the top off this one! GRRR!

[flickr_photo src= nsid=67995840@N04 id=7051489213]stellata mirifica (2)[/flickr_photo]

I pray at least one of them makes it to flowering size, as difficult as they’ve been to get to germinate over the time I’ve had the species. Nothing has taken on it from any pollen and none of its pollen has resulted in any seedlings. Trying to find a source for it is as difficult as finding its only hybrid, Pink Mystery. To think, at one time, Sequoia Nursery had potted plants of Pink Mystery, Stellata mirifica AND Stellata and all three grew in my old garden. It’s getting scarier and scarier…

Those two look great, sounds like you succeeded in doing something real tricky here!

I hope they grow well for you.

I also love your stories on these weird types of “roses” in your garden…great to read over a cup of coffee in the morning, thanks!

Kim, can very small / thin slugs get into the contraption where these had been sown?

Slugs are my main enemy in hybridizing. I use the eco safe type, and it works well. It doesnt hurt seedlings. California has a lot more various critters, though. Who knows what the culprit is.

I am curious if this species has some sort of bridge. Trier was the primary bridge for Rosa persica. I wonder how well it would do with this species? I dont even know how this species works =/

Brown Snail is the greater enemy here, though there are some slugs out front where it’s damper. There are no trails or other evidence of any bugs, other than the blamed fungus gnats which seem to LOVE Supersoil, which I resorted to because it was half the price of the Miracle Grow Moisture Control Soil I have usually used. There isn’t anywhere for the slugs to hide up there as the table doesn’t have any kind of lip for them to hide under and it’s up on aluminum saw horses. Other than the gnats, there’s no evidence of any insects around there which could be responsible.

I’m glad you enjoy the “stories”, George. Thanks! I’ve wondered about Aglaia, just don’t have anywhere to put it. I still have Apricot Bells and Patricia Beucher in pots waiting for somewhere to grow. They’re half Aglaia and half Mutabilis. Now that’s one I’d love to see mixed with it, and everything else for that matter. Once I can get the Mirifica up and running, I want to put Minutifolia’s pollen on it. They aren’t that far apart and should (hopefully) agree with one another.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, KIm. The Hesperhodos intrigue me, from what little I’ve found on them.

I gather Arno (from this forum) has succeeded in hybridizing with this, and I think I recall that Lens played with it as well.

How did the plant look in the landscape when not in bloom? I gather it has a rather random architecture, but I could imagine it having an appealing quirkiness to it in an arid setting. Any interesting color or other notables in the foliage, beyond the obvious size/texture?

Thank you Philip! The architecture is ‘desert like’. Most of the xerophytes form big masses of growth to trap any fogs or dews which occur to harvest any water they can from them and protect themselves from being easily grazed. Both Minutifolia and Stellata are covered with small bristles to help with that function. Some are a bit more upright, such as Minutifolia until it flops over to tip root. Stellata suckers like a more traditional species. Mirifica bronzes a bit in brilliant sun and cooler night temps as seen in this photo. I believe it’s the traditional “autumn foliage” response. Even the hips tend to form the purple tones. New growth suckers, for which I can find no good photos, is a beautiful, translucent green and also very bristly. The buds and peduncles are quite bristly, seeming to me to prevent them from being nibbled by rodents. The prickles on hips almost seem to function as those on sand spurs and Cholla, enabling them to stick to passing animals to be carried off in an effort to spread the plants.

There is almost a “bloom” on the new foliage which seems to me to function like a sun block. I wonder if it helps resist any fungal infections which might take advantage of odd weather conditions? The plant has never demonstrated any fungal attacks in either garden I’ve grown it in. During the worst of the high heat, you can find spotting on the leaves, but that impresses me as heat damage rather than a fungal infection. The flowers are quite large for a desert plant. Many others produce mass quantities of bloom to enhance reproductive chances. Mirifica produces fewer of them, but they are very large and extremely well protected. Imagine breeding those weapons with a moss rose! I’ve frequently attempted crossing Mirifica with Fedtschenkoana just to see how bristly the flowering parts might become and what foliage and growth colors would result.

The only commercial hybrid I know of was Pink Mystery, which The Velles sent me as thanks for sending Mr. Lens garbage bags full of material several times years ago. A friend could travel for just the taxes on the ticket due to her father having been an American Airlines pilot. Belgium didn’t have import restrictions so she would drag forty gallon garbage bags of individually bagged cuttings and bud wood on her trips to visit her family there. Pink Mystery was a gorgeous, amazing plant which everyone I know of who grew it here, have lost. It seemed the Lens Nursery had lost it, also, but it appears they have recovered it and I’m doing all I can to get it reestablished here again. I WANT that rose again!

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I’ve frequently attempted crossing Mirifica with Fedtschenkoana just to see how bristly the flowering parts might become

That just sounds so masochistic!! And here I thought one of the most ‘noble’ aspects of hybridising was trying to develop thornless roses. But I totally get it!

I don’t know if that makes me noble or just a coward! LOL

Hello roseseek!
Today I harvested the last batch of rose hips from my Rosa stellata ‘Mirifica’.
They are all fruits from planned crosses on a very young plant. I got this rose last fall as a bare root plant. It has developed well here in this climate and has been willing to accept very different pollen for rosehip set. Only two crosses have failed of a total of 23.
I am aware that the next difficult stages are still ahead, so only very cautious optimism is appropriate. However, I am happy about the first successful stage and I am excited about what is to come. I will report.

In my opinion, the best achenes visually come from the two crosses:
Rosa stellata ‘Mirifica’ X ‘William III’ and Rosa stellata ‘Mirifica’ X ‘Hugonis’, pls see example photo of one hip below.

N.B. Perhaps you remember my picture of the burst hip a few months ago. As you told me, the achenes have nevertheless developed and matured, but they make a little dry impression on me.


Congratulations! I hope you get some fun results from them!

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